Muslims from around the world will be barred from taking part in this year’s hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina, which usually attracts about 2.5 million visitors.

Saudi Arabia has said only a limited number of people who are resident in the kingdom will be permitted to take part in the hajj in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The country has recorded 161,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 1,300 deaths. A three-month nationwide 24-hour curfew was lifted at the weekend, with all economic and commercial activities allowed to resume, but international travel is still prohibited.